While discussing K’s future course of life, I tell him that his choice of psychology is fine but there are several other interesting options. Like wildlife biology, social work, sound engineering ( K has a keen ear for music) archeology, forestry etc.,. Subjects close to my heart. K cocks his head and says – ‘Look, Pops (he has such affectations at times), I have observed the lives of you two, you and mother. You have so many interests, one can see it from all the weird books you have in your library. But tell me frankly, where have they taken you? You haven’t reached anywhere, have you? I mean, you have been a small-time bank official all your life, 30 years in a Bank, phew! And hating every minute of it. But look at mother. She had focused on teaching and Botany right as a young girl, now she is a Professor, quite respected, Head of her department, has a PhD too. Looking at the two of you, I believe that her path is better; so there, I am focusing on my favourite subject and would like to go on and build a life around it’.
It might seem a bit cruel for him to say that I have not reached anywhere but I don’t feel the pain because what he said is true. It wouldn’t be true if I said I hadn’t wanted to reach anywhere. But early in life I reckoned that there are too many interesting things in the world to focus on one. Specialization, like somebody said, is for insects. A man had to know everything. I thought hell, there is only one life, and I want to taste as many things as possible. I would rather be a dilettante in many things rather than an expert in one. Fact is, my ego had to take severe beatings several times.
But it was a deliberate choice. Though at times of rueful reflection I have suspected my characteristic lethargy behind the decision not to pursue any single thing deep. Still I am unclear which would be the right choice. Looking back at my 50 plus years here, I cannot imagine what my life would have been without – starting from stamp collection and Agatha Christie at 10 to romance, travel, trekking, photography, movies, music, Kathakali, Sociology, tribal life, bird watching, organic farming, environmental activism, biking, poetry, HIMALAYAS, dogs, spirituality, family – bank has provided my bread, but it would have been a stale life if I hadn’t all these and a few more I cannot recollect. All I had wanted in my youth is a job so that I will be independent and still free to do most of the things that I wanted to do. Yes, I agree that the even the single track-minded have more than one interest, but they ensure that their energies are not dissipated.
I wish my son all the best. But I hope that in his urge to reach the destination he wouldn’t forget to enjoy the sceneries en route.
************ Balachandran V,